Cash Checks and Walk Away with Bucks
PT the Auditor
Garages that have both daily and monthly parkers (read that most of them) have a potential problem that needs regular attention. The manager can cash the checks being used to pay for monthly permits in the “daily cash.” It’s fairly easy to catch, but you have to look.
It works like this:
At the beginning of the month, when there are a lot of checks in the till (people pay their monthly fees then, usually by check), the manager takes a few of the checks, removes the same amount of cash from the daily money, and deposits those checks as “daily income.” He then shows the monthly income as it is, less the checks cashed in as daily income, and makes the deposit.
If you have a positive posting system, this problem would be caught when the system turned off the card that was cashed in the daily money. However, even then, the manager simply would claim “error” and turn the card back on. Unless you were watching very closely (and let’s face it, few of you watch very closely), no one would be the wiser.
If there is no positive posting, the problem would be much easier to cover. The cards in these systems are simply left “on,” and if a person doesn’t pay, they are turned off. The manager usually does this task, and since he knows which checks were “cashed” in the daily money, he simply forgets about the cards that should be turned off and all is right with that garage’s world.
There is only one way to audit this problem. Run an active card list monthly (preferably about the third week of the month and cross reference it with all the deposits. You will quickly see if the daily and monthly amounts are correct.
The reason the manager needs to cover the daily money is that usually the parking system has a report that tells auditors quickly how much daily cash should have been deposited.
Another way to help prevent this problem is to require the manager to make two deposits, one for daily and one for monthly cash. If you see a large amount of check activity on the daily deposit, you will know it’s time to call us.
Red flag: The manager lists all the checks to be deposited as one entry on the deposit slip. This makes it more difficult to see which checks were deposited where. Each check should be listed separately. If that’s a problem, have the people who take the checks each have a deposit book (in duplicate) and enter the check numbers and amounts when the transaction is made.
Another area that is helpful in managing your employees, is to have them use their parking access card to “sign on “their register, to have entry to the office, and to activate their time clocks. It’s a minor adjustment to the time clock to ensure that it won’t work unless their access card also is present.
The problem, of course, is when one employee cuts a deal with another and leaves early, and then the second employee logs out at regular quitting time for the first. By requiring that a person’s access card be used in the time card process, this issue is eliminated.
I might note that a person would give their access card to another at their peril. The person receiving the card could simply log on with the absent employee’s card, pull all kinds of nefarious activities at the exit lane, and then log off. If an audit were ever done, the first employee would be shown to be the felon, even though he was having tea with his girlfriend at the time.
There is another issue dealing with access cards. A local District Attorney’s Office wanted to find out when its staff members were going home and asked the garage to supply in and out times for each staffer. Since the DA paid for the parking, we felt that the request was appropriate and supplied the information. However, if the parking had been paid individually by each employee, we would have required a court order to access those records.
One last thing – A garage I regularly audit had a policy of not allowing employees to smoke on the job; they had to leave the premises to light up. What was happening was that people were taking bathroom breaks and then extending them into smoking breaks. These little forays into the night could take as long as 20 minutes and happened hourly.
We decided to put card readers on the restrooms (they were locked and required a key anyway). We could then track the activities of the employees and note the offenders. We found that half of the employees were spending a third of their time either in the bathroom or smoking, or both.
This management tool caused a change in the organization’s smoking and bathroom privilege policy.
Is this an invasion of privacy? Frankly, I don’t know. I do know that employees who take advantage of a situation need to be counseled, and they brought the monitoring on themselves.
Article Abstract from February, 2008